Category: rice

Warm Up (Mushroom Risotto with Thyme and Cheddar)

It’s that time of year again, Montreal! You know, that season that isn’t quite a season? For those of you who don’t live here, let me fill you in. We’ve had the kind of days that’ve started off in cozy sweaters and boots, and have ended off in shorts and flip flops. We’ve seen the kind of weeks that have offered us weather reminiscent of Melbourne – rain, sun, frost and heat all within 24 hours.

One certainty in all of this is that Autumn has officially arrived! The general drop in temps has offered us a much needed break after our wildly humid summer, so we can put our hair down and lace our boots up. Because, let’s face it – the best part of fall is the fashion… Oh, and of course, the other best part is the comfort food!

So, without further adieu, I present to you the rich, the tasty, the creamy mushroom risotto! Inspired by a deliciously rich dish that I recently ate at a small resto (in the suburbs, who’d have imagined!?) I decided to create my very own version.

It does take some time to make, but don’t let that stop you – it’s totally and completely worth it.
Now go get cooking!


Mushroom Risotto with Thyme and Cheddar

what you’ll need
1 cup white wine
1 cup chopped mushrooms
1 bunch chopped green onions
1 cup arborio rice
2 tbsp oil
3 tbsp fresh thyme leaves
3 cups vegetable stock
2 tbsp chopped marinated garlic
1 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese
1/4 cup grated parmiggiano cheese
1 cup water + more as needed

how to do it
Sautee mushrooms and green onions in oil in a medium saucepan. Set aside. Meanwhile, in a large pot, bring rice and 1 cup water to a boil. Reduce heat and stir. Continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until rice absorbs the liquid. Slowly add in one cup wine. Simmer and stir until absorbed. Add one cup of stock at a time, waiting until absorbed before each addition, and constantly stirring. (Note – If rice is not fully cooked – tender, but not crunchy – after three cups of stock, continue the process with water or wine.) Once rice is tender, stir in mushroom mixture, garlic and thyme. Fold in cheeses. Sprinkle a generous amount of fresh ground black pepper into the mixture. Serve immediately, sprinkled with extra cheese if desired.

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CooCoo for Coconut

Last week started off on quite a poor note for me: on top of having to deal with a broken bed and a wintery slap in the face in the form of an ice storm,  I had to deal with some less-than-pleasant stomach issues which landed me in the dreaded waiting room of a health clinic. The cherry on top of it all: I was instructed by my new doctor to stay away from both gluten AND dairy for “a couple of weeks.”

Is he aware that gluten and dairy are the basis of my comfort-food diet every winter?
Is he aware that the temperatures dipped below freezing this week?
Is he aware that denying me of bagels and cream cheese is not good for my mental health?

Attempting to keep my mental health in check – for the good of everyone around me – I decided to make the best of things and turn this into a cooking challenge! (While grinding my teeth and forcing a smile!) At first, it was tough to think up ideas. (On that note, it’s also been tough trying to ignore the brand new chocolate milk container and the three containers of yogourt in my fridge. But I digress). I began to get quite creative in the kitchen.

And that my friends, is where my fabulous coconut shrimp stir-fry was born.
I must admit, I had some inspiration from my good friend Lisa, so thank you!
The boy and I both reached for seconds. And then thirds. We then had to restrain ourselves, because I was insistent on getting a photograph in before it was all devoured…


Coconut Shrimp Stir Fry with Rice Noodles

what you’ll need

•    2 eggs
•    ½ Spanish or Vidalia onion, finely sliced
•    1 cup sliced mushrooms
•    4 shallots, cut into long pieces
•   1 yellow pepper, sliced
•    ¾ cup sugar snap peas
•    ⅓ cup frozen peas
•    ½ cup cooked, peeled de-veined frozen shrimp
•    ⅓ cup water

•    ¾ small can tomato paste
•    ½ cup coconut milk
•    3 tbsp lime juice
•    3 tsp fenugreek
•    3 tsp sea salt (or more, to taste)
•    2 tsp hot pepper sauce (optional)

•    2 cups broad rice noodles, cooked according to package directions

how to do it

Cook rice noodles according to package directions, ensuring that they are slightly al-dente (otherwise, they will fall apart later on – you’ll see).
Scramble the egg in non-stick fry pan (or in 1 tbsp of oil / cooking spray). Set egg aside.
In same pan, cook onions and mushrooms in water over medium-high heat until reduced.
While you are waiting for the mixture to reduce, in a small bowl, combine coconut milk, tomato paste, hot sauce, lime juice and spices. Set aside.
Once the water in the pan is completely evaporated, add yellow pepper and cook until slightly softened. Add shallots, peas, shrimp and egg to the mixture.
Pour sauce into the pan and mix well.
Cook until shrimp are completely defrosted.
Once the mixture is ready, empty it all into a bowl with the rice noodles and toss to coat.

Serve immediately, garnished with lime slices, shallots and toasted coconut if desired.

Three Minute Masterpiece

Rice wraps.
If you haven’t done so already, I strongly urge you to get on the bandwagon.

Light and easy to work with, rice wraps are a fail safe go-to anytime that I need a quick-fix meal. Thanks to their neutral taste, they can be stuffed with pretty much anything that you desire. I could imagine them filled with any savory meal that you’d normally eat as a salad – for instance, some seared strips of steak and raw spinach. Or, for the vegetarian, tofu, ginger, carrots and sprouts. You can even venture to the complete opposite end of the spectrum and make desert rolls, filling them with a fruit salad and dipping them in chocolate. When I make them, my preference has generally been sushi-inspired. The other day, I had a fishepiphany – why don’t I make a bagel-inspired one? I am from Montreal afterall…

Ah! There she is – the above photo was taken pre-wrap, of course. A true beauty: avocado, alfalfa sprouts, Coho smoked salmon, cream cheese and toasted sesame seeds. As a bonus, since the rice papers each contain only 45 calories and 0 grams of fat, I was able to enjoy all of the best parts of my Sunday morning bagel, without any of the usual carby guilt. 
My favorite part about these wraps is that they look ridiculously impressive – and only take a couple of minutes to throw together. For real: this little baby took me three minutes total! A three minute masterpiece…. I’ll now title this blog post accordingly. 

Rice Wraps

An original recipe by Allison Sklar
what you’ll need
  • Rice paper (available in the Asian/Sushi section of the supermarket, or in any Asian food shop)
  • any combination and/or all of the following:
  • 1/2 avocado, sliced
  • 1/4 package shredded pollock (or real crab meat, if you swing that way)
  • 4 slices smoked salmon
  • 1/4 cup alfalfa sprouts
  • 1 tbsp cream cheese
  • 1 tbsp mayonnaise mixed with a few drops cayenne pepper sauce (spicy mayo)
  • soy sauce, or more spicy mayo for dipping

how to do it 

Thoroughly wet rice paper on a large plate with warm water. Let soak for about 3 minutes or until soft enough to work with. Place on a dry plate for 30 seconds. Place ingredients in the middle of the wrap. Fold in ends, then wrap like you would a tortilla. (Let sit for a few minutes to dry if it is too wet. Wrap should not be slippery, but slightly sticky.) Cut in half and EAT!